Chicago Public Schools Equity Change Idea

A series of Facing History lessons to explore your students’ identities

This collection of Facing History lessons, applicable across content areas, creates space for students to explore their own identities and for teachers to better understand the students in their classroom communities, working toward the relationships that make classrooms successful.

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At the heart of a high quality, equitable education is the establishment of a “culture of belonging” in classrooms and schools, where students feel they can be successful, where the work has meaning to them, and ultimately, where they are full-fledged member of the community. 

At the root of this culture is the relationship between teachers and students, with the teacher acting as a caring adult who values the individuality of each student they work with, and takes the time to develop relationships with and among their students as they all work toward the shared goals of academic and social success.  

These lessons work to help teachers establish safe and inclusive classroom communities where students learn to listen to diverse viewpoints and make their voices heard. As a result, these classrooms become student-centered spaces, facilitated by a trusted adult, where honest questioning, discussion, and social and academic growth can occur; where students build understanding and empathy, break down stereotypes, and strengthen their voices; and where they develop the skills necessary for academic and community success. These practices help lay the foundation for a classroom community centered on equity and justice. 

Preparing for the Classroom

Get Our New Back to School Resources

This collection of teaching resources will help you lay a foundation of community and care as schools return this fall, whether in a remote, in-person, or hybrid format.

Building Community for Connection and Learning

The Lessons

Teachers who use the identity lessons can prepare by asking themselves:

  1. How can I engage in reflective learning about my own identity? Do I recognize the ways my own experiences, culture, and beliefs impact my interactions with students?

  2. What explicit steps will I take to ensure a safe classroom environment where students feel comfortable sharing their identities with others?

  3. How many lessons will I devote to learning about students’ identities?

  4. Which lessons will I choose? What additional information or resources do I need to prepare?

  5. How will what I learn about students’ identities impact my instructional planning for my classes?

  6. After completing these lessons, how will I continue to foster and deepen relationships with and among my students?

  7. What additional learning opportunities will I seek out to continue my own learning, interrupt my biases, and create more equitable educational experiences for my students?

  1. Exploring Identity
  2. The Complexity of Identity
  3. Community Matters: A Facing History and Ourselves Approach to Advisory (a login is required to access  this publication.)
    • Identity Charts & Discussion - Activities 19 and 20 (p. 103-109) 
    • A Story about My Name - Activity 5 (p. 65-66)
    • Language and Identity - Activity 24 (p. 116 - 119) 
    • My Life Road Map - Activity 26 (p. 122 - 123)

About Facing History and Ourselves


Logo with tagline: People make choices, choices make history.

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to use lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.

In addition to reading the above lessons and planning for effective implementation, teachers may also attend online or in-person professional development, download additional resources, ask questions of their school communities, and reflect on what they learn throughout this process.

For more information about our approach, contact us at [email protected]

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.